Message from Andrés Mantilla, Director of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
Dear Community Members:
This afternoon, Mayor Durkan presented her 2019-20 Proposed Budget to the Seattle City Council. The Mayor’s proposed budget is focused on building a city of the future that is affordable, inclusive, and innovative, while also creating efficiencies and solving problems that our city is facing. Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON) has a significant role in inclusive outreach and engagement, supporting community building, and assisting our fellow City departments as we work through these issues and challenges.
The budget lays the groundwork for DON to further improve upon recent efforts to centralize and coordinate City outreach and engagement and make these efforts more equitable and accessible to communities. DON will continue to play an essential role in Mayor Durkan’s commitment to bring City Hall directly to communities and reach underserved residents. This includes DON’s continued investments in the Neighborhood Matching Fund, which supports local grassroots projects within neighborhoods and communities. In addition, the budget focuses on DON’s programs in neighborhoods to strengthen local communities, engage residents in neighborhood improvement, leverage resources, and continue community-initiated projects like the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund.
You will see the Mayor’s priorities also reflected in DON’s budget which plans for efficiencies, cost recovery, and elevated support in Chinatown International District.
General Fund Efficiencies
The Mayor asked all departments to think differently and creatively on how to efficiently deliver services and maximize resources to continue core deliverables . To meet our target, we reorganized programs and realigned staff capacity to make it easier and more efficient for communities to access services and resources.
- Staff realignments and better program collaboration to shift the work for three unfilled vacant positions
- Funds are eliminated for training and travel as well as funding to IT for database maintenance
- A fellowship fund was repurposed to provide community grants and engagement work for the Census 2020 community outreach and engagement.
Chinatown International District (CID) Community Engagement
Due to impacts and challenges the CID faces and will continue to face over the next few years, DON will partner with its community organizations to develop and steward an engagement plan that will identify strategies and projects that support the implementation of the community’s priorities. DON will closely collaborate with other City departments throughout the process and use our Community Liaison program. We will fund paid participation and work on in-language community engagement to ensure that every community member is involved.
Improving Historic Preservation Cost Recovery
In 2018, the City Council asked our Historic Preservation program for options to improve cost recovery. Currently, all construction projects involving a landmark or in a historic district are charged the same maximum fee. The department proposes charging new projects a higher maximum fee as they often require significantly more staff time due the complexity of projects with higher construction costs. Affordable housing projects financed by some public funding will be exempt from this fee change. This will help the City recover some of its expenses on staff who run this program.
Community Grant Staff Realignment
DON has two programs that provide community grant funding – the Neighborhood Matching Fund and the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund. To better align these programs, staff, communications, and engagement with the community, both are now under a Community Grants Strategic Advisor. Any new grant programs would become a part of this team.
These are a few of the highlights reflected in the Mayor’s proposed budget, which can be viewed online at seattle.gov/budget. Over the next two months, Seattle City Council will be reviewing and deliberating the proposed budget. To learn how you can provide input, visit www.seattle.gov/council/budget/.
Thank you for your interest and support.
Director, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods